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Showing posts from July, 2007

Superpowers brushed aside

Adrian got me thinking the other day about Jeremiah with his blogging on Jeremiah 17. So I've started reading it. I've not listened Adrian's sermon yet but it's loaded and ready on my mp3 player. Hear it here: The heart of the matter.

Starting at the begininng. Jeremiah is commissioned by God, he's told not to protest that he's too young or two weak (1v8-9). Words that reminds me of Moses and even more so of young & timid Timothy who are both sent by God to preach the word. Ultimately the calibre of the preacher isn't the point, it's the content of the words they're to speak. Jesus embodies this more than anyone, weak yet speaking the very words of God.

More striking for me was what he'll do. This blew me away. "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to break down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant."God's words are in Jeremiah's mout…

Introducing John Coekin

I had the pleasure of sitting next to John Coekin at wedding reception yesterday. I've known of John for many years because of his website... turns out he's a charming Christian gentleman too.

Understanding and Teaching the Bible.
He's preaching on Numbers 14 this morning.

Introducing Krish Kandiah

Let me introduce you to a new blogger you may not have come across before. Krish is a friend and partner in the gospel, and the bio below tells a bit more of the story....

Krish KandiahPreviously to his appointment as Executive Director: Churches in Mission for the UK Evangelical Alliance, Dr Krish Kandiah was the Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and also Tutor in Mission and Evangelism at Wycliffe Hall. He was also a member of the Oxford University Theology faculty.

Krish has worked with students in the UK with Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, and in Albania with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, before becoming pastor of a multi-cultural church in Harrow. He is still a regular speaker at university missions, and has wide experience in evangelism and cross cultural mission. He is a regular speaker at Spring Harvest and is in demand as a speaker and lecturer. Krish has published two books to date: “Twenty Four – integrating faith…

"a summary of the whole gospel"

Milton Stanley points us to some clear words on prayer". Prayer becomes what we used to refer to as “Sick Call” in the army. Where on earth did we get this idea of prayer? Not from Jesus. He healed a few people from time to time, but he doesn’t pray for that. He prays for the coming of God’s kingdom, for bread (but only on a daily basis, not for a surplus) and for forgiveness for our trespasses. It’s curious that physical deterioration has become the contemporary North American church’s main concern in prayer. Jesus is most notable for teaching that we are to pray—not for recent gall bladder surgery—but for our enemies! To be a Christian, a disciple of Jesus, is to pray like Jesus. Therefore Luther called the Lord’s Prayer “a summary of the whole gospel.”"While Adrian Reynolds is about to preach the word that exposes the thoughts amd motives of the human heart... divided, departed, devoted and deceitful

Together on a Mission mp3s

Joel Virgo - Preaching the Bible in the 21st Century
This is a great plea for young preachers given at the Mobilise conference. Brilliant challenge to take the word seriously and preach it with clarity and Christ-exalting passion. Terry Virgo - The Holy Spirit and your church
A helpful balanced defence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Even if you don't entirely agree with what's said it'll be eyeopening to hear this. My response was to believe God's promises about the Spirit. More recommendations to follow...

They hated me without reason

Winston Churchill said “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” And it's what we have in Great Britian today. Democracy. And when you're in a democracy many things are good but the downside is if you're a minority. Majority rules. Often the majority feels a bit bad about this and so offers freedoms and rights to the minorities to avoid the sense that it's oppressing them. Nonetheless, majority rules.

What do you do when you used to be a majority but no longer are? I think that is an issue the church has to face up to in the years ahead. There is no such (biblical) thing as a Christian nation in these last days, but Britain certainly used to be shaped by some sort of Christian principles. Britain was not a theocracy where the law says you must worship God alone. But, it was a nation in which the government's divinely appointed role of punishing evil and praising good was more accurately focussed it …


My very good friend Richard and his wife Sally had their first child today, meet Libby (7lb 10oz). Speaking to Rich on the phone this evening I was struck by him telling me that watching childbirth strengthened his conviction about how serious sin is to bring such pain (Gen 3:16). And sobered by that he's also able to be thankful for God's gift to them. I look forward to seeing him bring Libby up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4), confident that he'll teach her to delight in grace and love the Lord Jesus.

Rich, Psalm 90 is my prayer for you and your family.

Treasure seeking

The rich man wanted life. The poor man wants to be rich. Even in the first century everyone was looking for something. Augustine put it well: our hearts are restless. The advertising industry, for better or worse, is built upon highlighting this. It appeals to our restlessness with what we already have and offers the treasure we've been seeking, even though we weren't aware of it. We seek satisfaction and we will find it somewhere. Along the line we might drop our standards to reduce the risk of disappointment. We all treasure something. Whether comfort or possessions, family or fame.

Some questions. What do I treasure? Is it the best treasure I could acquire? Is there anything wrong with settling for less? Jesus says, where your treasure is there your heart is also. To find the condition of our hearts we don't need to go soul searching but treasure hunting. That which we treasure reveals our heart.

One day in a crowd an man stands out. He seeks a share of an inheritance …

No trees with forbidden fruit

"...there will be a day before too long when some of the children of Eve, those who are the children of God, will finally crush his head. On that day, there will be no more temptation, no more lies, and the assault on God’s goodness that has raged for thousands of years will be brought to a sudden end. On that day, an experience even better than Eden will have arrived. On that day, God’s people will enjoy a place like the garden- but a place where there are no deceiving serpents, and no trees with forbidden fruit- a place even better than the garden because God is moving forwards not backwards... It’s hard to miss isn’t it? That tree has re-appeared. The tree that was guarded by the flaming sword is no longer guarded. The tree from which Adam and Eve were banished is there bearing abundant fruit. The tree that offered eternal life is free for the eating once again. "Read more at Biblical Theology Briefing: Serpent crusher or serpent crushers? Preaching Genesis 3 in…

Pelagius and his guitar

"It's symptomatic of our Pelagius-influenced retreat from the fear of God that our songs become less about the grace of God; the sovereignty of God; the holiness, splendour, immutability, awesome power and majesty of God. As church music has been influenced by the musical styles of popular culture, the songs we use have borrowed their structure, rhyming schemes and phrasing from love songs. This combines uncomfortably with our newfound conviction that we are pretty much ok in the sight of God: our songs gradually become more "me" focused. The songs we sing in church begin to describe more of how I feel, more of how God blesses me, more of what I intend to do for Him." - Dan Hames.

Read more: Pelagius invades church music
Makes me want to set some more time aside for lyricwriting.

Harry Potter and the deathly hallows

My wife just bought a copy. I've not read the previous one yet.

Anyways, the good news is that Asda are selling it for five pounds.

Pray for Bulgaria

Ed Goode is on mission in Bulgaria and asks for prayer...

Please pray for:

Bulgaria itself, this is such a hard place to do evangelism for a lot of reasons i don't want to write about in an internet cafe...but yeh, pray!

The Camp. We're nearly half way through now, i'm so tired, and i'm still in the 'wow God's doing all this cool stuff in me' zone rather than the Matthew 24:14 zone...maybe thats kinda ok, but i'd rather be in both.

For Craig who's leading the camp, for his health and perseverance.
For the guys from Bourgas.
For the Christian Bulgarians here, for their growth and perseverance
For Natalya, Danni and Christina in my small group.

Praise God for:

The fact this camp is happening and their are non Christians here.
For the two American teams who are here, their support and friendship.
For the Bulgarian Christians
For the Gospel, that it works, even here, even with people like me saying it.
That God is bigger than refreshing!

Smoke and mirrors

Matthew Parris - The sad truth: appearance is the new reality: Our age is suffering from an authenticity crisis

In the week of (no) cash for honours and no winners for phone in's, Matthew Parris is on form in today's Times. He diagnoses a crisis of authenticity. We want reality but we don't seem to be able to find it.

People have charged Christians with hypocrisy for years for faking that we're spotless when really we're just forgiven sinners. We'd do well to be a bit more honest with ourselves, our God and our world. What do I think I'm doing if I spin the gospel? Who am I trying to fool?

Likewise when it comes to presenting God's good news to his world a little less spin and a little more plain speaking would probably be helpful. Paul was at pains to stress that we are not those who deceive the world, twisting words but rather commending the good news of Jesus to the consciences of those who listen. What do I think I'm doing if I spin the gospel? Who…

Global wetting

It's just stopped raining here, but this is what it's looked like over the last hour or so... I guess it'll be a while before the water recedes.

An hour later: the rain has pretty much stopped and the water is starting to drain away...

Sunshine on a rainy day

Mark Lauterbach is on form thinking about how we are the people God didn't kill because Jesus was struck dead for us - three posts in the series already.
Adrian Warnock is signing off for summer and declares that he wants to be an extremistAdrian Reynolds observes biblical non-expository preaching by Stephen. I'm all for expository preaching but this does make it a little difficult to say it's the only way to do it...Refresh your mp3s with these sermons highlighted by Colin Adams.David Field on getting lost in a good book. I wont be buying the new Harry Potter, though I guess Em will,... but reading good books is definitely a good idea.Andy Shudall concludes is liveblogging at the IFES world assembly.Mark Dever interviews Will Metzger of IVCF about serving the church in parachurch ministry, and about evangelism. Metzger is the author of Tell the Truth which is high on my shelf waiting to be read since Peter Dray recommended it.The Times on 20 questions parents can't ans…

The Emporers New Clothes

He was rich. He had everything and yet he gave it up to enter into this world in poverty. His parents had to offer two birds instead of a lamb to dedicate him to the Lord (Leviticus 12:8). In his ministry he was poorer than foxes and birds, they have holes and nests but the Son of Man had no-where to sleep (Luke 9:57).

Immediately that puts a great distance between him and any of us. Being a blogreader necessitates a certain measure of available wealth and resources that the average homeless person doesn't have. Yet Jesus was happy to associate with the rich and the poor. He gave no indication that one was more virtuous than the other. He fed the hungry and ate in the houses of the rich.

One day, as he walked towards his death in Jerusalem, he met with a rich man (Luke 18:18:27). The man came seeking eternal life. That was right up Jesus' street. He'd been talking to all he met about how to gain eternal life. It was a commendable enquiry. Jesus picks him up for addressing hi…

Stand and fight, or walk away and be wronged?

A friend emailed me a copy of this:
"We should not expect a "fair fight" in a secular world that is hostile to God and uncomfortable around the truth of Christ. Therefore, our response to abuse or distortion or slander should not be angry resentment, but patient witness to the truth, in the hope and with the prayer that returning good for evil may open hearts to the truth. We must recognize that persecution of various kinds is normal and that much of the protection we have abnormal in history and in the world. Our witness will not be advanced by resentful huffing and puffing about our rights. It will be advanced by "suffering yet always rejoicing," and by overcoming evil with good, and by steadfast statements and reasonable defenses of the truth.(Matthew 5:43-45; Romans 12:17-21; 1 Corinthians 4:12-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 2:15, 19-24; 3:9; 4:12)" - DesiringGod.orgTwo the two things I've been thinking about here over the …

Tourists and celebrations

The people God didn't kill

Mark Lauterbach - Going where others died (1)
Mark Lauterbach - Going where others died (2)

"Behind th[e] simple phrase in Hebrews 2:17
is the story of how God acted in Israel's history
to protect them from being struck dead. "

The Biblical Theology Briefings

Here are what I'd consider to be some of the best resources for preachers and bible readers that are available online today. Sermons with the scaffolding put back in place to help us see why the preacher drew the conclusions he did, and why he didn't pursue other avenues. Each of them especially paying attention to the impact of the story of salvation (Biblical Theology) upon the passage at hand. They're part of which myself, David & Jonny Gibson and Andy Grundy have been running for about five years. I should also say we're always open to contributions from others, so if you want to write one here are our guidelines for contributors

By Simon Flinders, St Thomas, North Sydney, AustraliaAFTER THE FLOOD: Genesis 8-9
By David Horrocks, Arborfield & Barkham Churches, EnglandMAY YOUR KINGDOM COME: Joshua 5:13-6:17
By Graham Beynon, Avenue Community Church, Leicester, EnglandPAGANS, PROSTI…

More questions than answers

So to recap, Christians should submit to authorities, pay their taxes and are only able to break the law when it would mean sinning. I suggested that it's the role of government to be the conscience of society, and Christians concerned to restrain evil should play their part in government by standing for office and by voting. These things seem fairly clear.

But, is there any ground for going to court? Any reason to appeal to the authorities? Various reasons seem to be used like...

1. In Acts we see Paul appeal to his Roman Citizenship which means he'll be transported to Rome. That spared him a beating and helped fulfill his ambition to preach in Rome. That seems to be an example of using a priviledge that the law had for him - but time and again before this he was abused by authorities without complaint. How did he decide which way go pursue it? Are there equivilants today? What would constitute the right situation today? Churches or mission teams prevented from being led by Ch…

Where your treasure is

Take your seat in the new Wembley stadium. For a few moments start to count the 90,000 seasts. Take in the architecture. Marvel at the engineering that created the 315 metre long arch, it's 70 tonne hinges. An icon for the 21st century visible 13 miles away at Canary Wharf. All of it infamous for it's missed delays and record-setting budget. Today though it matters less how long it took to build and at what cost. What really matters is what will happens on the lush grass below. It's those 7000 square metres and the 22 players running around on it that matter. Might we miss the game for the sweeping structure.

And now welcome to God's stadium. It's the greatest thing ever made. The everything ever made. Central to our experience, planet earth though this is only the tiniest fraction of it. All of it entrusted to us, to rule and subdue and enjoy with thanksgiving. Look around, enjoy the view. And then see the makers fingerprints. Hear his description of it.

...and th…

Truth that unites

Proposal for ETS to adopt the UCCF Doctrinal Basis which "unites a broad constituency of evangelicals in the U.K... The UCCF doctrinal statement could in no way be labeled as “narrow, separatistic fundamentalism... a statement to clarify the evangelical identity of our society. We think the UCCF statement would do just that."The UCCF Doctrinal Basis / Declaration of BeliefMark Dever on why Jonathan Edwards got fired - well worth the listen if you've got a spare hour. Dever shows us that Edwards was imperfect in his ministry. For flaws he had he sought to uphold the integrity of his church, of God's glory even though it cost him his reputation and his job.

Sensitivity to the Spirit

So, a previous post raised the question of what's a big decision?

A couple of weeks ago I was in Oxfam books in Reading - it's a great place to pick up old Christian books - much of it's not good but there are a some treasures in the dirt. My best buys have probably been Lloyd-Jones on Romans 3 and this one...

Taking Sides by David Field of Oak Hill [Update - not the same David Field who is currently at Oak Hill - ht: David Gibson]. It's a 1975 book from IVP which seems to be out of print now.

It's a brilliant practical pocketbook on ethics. I really wanted it because it's helping me with a seminar I'm writing on a Christian attitude to work (study). But, the rest is good too.

The first chapter is called what does the Bible say? and is helpful on this other issue. This is a book that starts where others finish - pushing hard the application on the basis of firm Biblical foundations.

David Field notes we should distinguish the weightier matters. He cites Jesus…

Liveblogging at the IFES World Assembly, Toronto

Andy Shudall and Rosemary Grier are liveblogging the IFES World Assembly in Toronto, Canada. Andy is from England is in the New Zealand delegation. Rosemary is from Northern Ireland representing England, Wales & Scotland. Go figure!

The International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) is a networking community of nationally-led student movements, committed to being partners in global student witness. We exist to reach students in every nation with the gospel and to send them into the world to bear witness to Christ and his teaching.

Catch a flavour of what's going on... I love hearing about what God is doing worldwide among students.
Andy Shudall: Why am I here?Andy Shudall: - Do I sit at a table or a desk?Rosemary Grier - Not about usMark Petersen on Gathering Student LeadersNigel Pollock, among friends, including a cool photo of 3 generations of UCCF Relay Coordinators
Rosemary Grier, assembling with familiar facesAndy Shudall, welcome into deep conversationsAndy Shudal…

Hard to get a sequel right

Mbonisi Malaba was saying on Wednesday that it's hard to get a sequel right - on the challenge for Timothy following Paul in ministry. This morning I noticed that at my local cinema that the only films they're showing are sequels. Evidently the difficulty doesn't stop people trying! Die Hard 4.0. Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix. Hostel Part II. Ocean's Thirteen. Shrek the Third.

The Spirit says...

"We don't make decisions on the basis of strategic planning as in businesses. Big decisions in the NT church, and in our churches, are made because God spoke. For example, “The Spirit of Jesus wouldn't let them” go somewhere."
David Stroud - at Together on a Mission
Now, clearly most decisions that the church needs to make are led by Scripture. God is already telling us the big stuff and a lot of the little stuff. His Spirit still speaks his gospel-promises on the page. But, equally many details are unwritten. What are we to do in those situations? Some say, it doesn't matter - do whatever you want within what God says. There's freedom! You don't pray about what socks to wear after all. Socks are pretty trivial. God counts the hairs on our heads but it's hard to see that it's going to matter all that much what's on your feet. Some things are significantly more important - 'big decisions' - if our brothers and sisters in the first century…